Is weight training a key part of my fitness plan if I’m over 40?

Dr. Kevin J. Soden, MD
Family Medicine
Strength training is essential to a person’s overall health, especially as they age. After age 25, you lose at least 1 percent of your muscle mass each year, and about 26 percent by about age 60. The greatest amount of muscle mass is lost in your lower back, butt, and lower legs – the key muscles used to help keep your balance when walking or running. Your chance of injury increases greatly if these muscles are not strengthened.
The good news is that strength training can provide benefits at any age, can improve flexibility, endurance, bone health, and can help you burn more calories. Muscular strength training should be part of an overall fitness program.
Jack D. Potter
One of the best benefit's from lifting weights for people over 40 is that bones become stronger. As you age, your bones can begin to become weaker. When you lift weights the muscles begin to strengthen. The muscle is the part of the body that keeps the bones together. The stronger your muscle are the stronger your bones become. The lifting of the weights not only strengthens their muscle, but it keeps the bones nice and firm.

Absolutely! Strength training can and should be a part of most individual's exercise routine. The benefits touch every age group but you will see as we discuss below, they are of particular interest to exercisers over 40.

Strength training (using weights, bands or your own body weight) is designed to place uncommon resistance on your muscles. This resistance creates small micro-tears among your muscle fibers. While this may sound harmful, this is exactly what you want to happen. The damaged tissue is forced to repair itself and your body, being designed to adapt, builds the muscles stronger and more efficient than before.

The benefits of these strength gains are numerous.

First of all, you are stronger! Who doesn't want to be able to easily lift and carry little ones or be more resistant to injury? Most adults lose muscle mass as they age and this loss will make them more prone to accidents and injuries due to weal muscles, inflexibility and reduced reaction time. A properly designed strength training program will address all of these issues and more.

Also, muscle is a metabolically active tissue. In short, the more muscle your carry, the greater your resting metabolic rate is. That means you burn more calories the other 23 hours a day you are not exercising. This is exciting!

Do you see how losing muscle mass as you age can add up to extra pounds? The perceived inevitable mid-life weight gain does not have to happen. By keeping active and building lean mass, you will be one step ahead of Father Time.

It should be.  As the other answers stated, it improves muscle tone and bone density.  Weight training with functional movement is crucial for maintaining balance and stability as we age.  

Yes, strength-training should be a key part of your fitness plan if you’re over 40. Unfortunately, too many people blame aging for their decreased fitness levels and loss of functional ability. This is a mistake. While some physiologic changes are normal as we age, adults 40 and over respond to exercise and strength-training similarly to younger adults. Many of the ill-effects of a sedentary lifestyle such as high blood pressure, heart disease, type 2 diabetes , and osteoporosis can be avoided (and is some cases even reversed) when you incorporate a healthy lifestyle including strength-training. In addition, strength-training can help you prevent significant reductions in muscular strength, flexibility, endurance, balance, and coordination.

When beginning a strength-training regimen it will be important to start slow and progress according to your fitness level. Start with body-weight exercises or light weights to help your body become accustomed to strength-training. As your fitness and strength improve, you can increase the intensity of your exercise routine.

Absolutely, it has been widely reported that people begin to lose muscle mass after the age of 40.  A consistent weight training routine will help to counteract this inevitable biological process.  At a minimum, individuals should incorporate a resistance routine in their fitness program.  This will help the individual maintain strength, balance and posture.

Definetly, weight training has a positive effect on anyone at any age. As we all age it becomes more-so important because we lose musle mass as we age.  Any program you choose to adopt should consist of weight training, such as free weights or using your own body weight (push ups).

Best practice is to consult with your physician before starting a training program.

Absolutely! Keeping your body strong is very important. Maintaining muscle mass helps you to burn calories and keeps your bone strong.
Weight training is a key component of a fitness program if you're over 40. As we age, we begin to lose muscle mass as well as bone density. Weight training can help slow this process and help increase muscle and bone strength. This will assist in being able to perform activities of daily living more effectively as well as decrease the risk of injury.

As a woman that is about to turn 40 I can tell you that you just might NOT get to your fitness goal WITHOUT weight training. Not only might you NOT reach your goal you will also put yourself at a higher risk to end up with osteoporosis in later years. weight training does not have to be difficult or complex but it is essential at a minimum once a week and if you can fit in two or three weight training sessions a week you will notice that it is harder for you to gain weight, you will have more energy throughout your week, you will sleep better at night and your monthly symptoms could even be less severe. Add proper nutrition and clean eating in to the mix with adequate hydration and you will feel better than you have ever felt in your life. Results could take up to three weeks to notice the difference so it's important to stick with a consistent and ever changing routine for several weeks at least. 

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.